“It’s not as simple as it being about race, it’s about something else. It’s about the fact that Australia is generally a very tolerant society until its minorities demonstrate that they don’t know their place… The minute an Indigenous man stands up and is something other than compliant, the backlash is huge and it is them who are creating division and destroying our culture. And that is ultimately what we boo. We boo our discomfort.” As ever, Waleed Aly’s words were pointed and poignant. As ever, they ignited further debate while highlighting personal positioning. And, in dissecting the disheartening boos that shadowed AFL champion Adam Goodes’ fnal season – such sentiment was rightly cheered. Opinion grafted to intelligence – it’s what the 37-year-old is about, be it as columnist, broadcaster, author. Note he’s an overachiever whose business card could also read academic, terrorism studies lecturer, lawyer or engineer. He’s also a father of two and a devout Muslim who prays to Allah and the Richmond football gods in equal measure. While Aly may shy from being labelled a ‘journalist’, his remains a viewpoint of interest and one that’s this year been heard more loudly than ever, thanks to a move in January to co-host Ten’s nightly current affairs program, The Project. ABC’S established guard wailed at the defection – the former Radio National Drive host aborting (their thoughts) the luminosity to slum it in the commercial sphere. But Aly’s not a wanker. And he’s never claimed superiority based on a specifc platform. Nevertheless, this supposed step down the media ladder fails to acknowledge continued work on Sunday morning’s best TV panel show ( Outsiders) and ongoing work with ABC radio’s The Minefield. If anything, Aly’s move to prime time has proved that commercial current affairs can, beyond moments of entertainment, deliver a strong sense of the cerebral. Think of it as a thumb on the nose to the foot-in-the-door types found elsewhere. And audiences have been listening and engaging. Little wonder some of his efforts on The Project have prompted headlines. Cue his acute smack down of Steve Price in a conversation on proposed mining legislation. Cue Aly’s taking to task of fellow Muslim Zaky Mallah (attention Q&A) and a direct demand that then PM, Tony Abbott, answer questions about the Australian Government’s role in paying Indonesian people-smugglers to turn back their own boats. What Aly does, ultimately, is challenge. Challenge those sat alongside in the studio. Challenge the thoughts of the masses he now speaks to. Challenge what’s gone before when it comes to vocal media sorts unafraid to dish an opinion. Cheer, cheer. n Charcoal wool jacket, $1795, maroon/white cotton ‘Bengal Stripe’ shirt, $279, and grey/navy wool/silk tie, $180, all by Canali at David Jones; baby blue silk pocket square, $29, by Jack London at David Jones.